Preparing your cabling for Power over Ethernet

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Power over Ethernet (PoE) refers to the phenomenon of running power and data transmission through the same cable, eliminating the need for separate wiring for each purpose. In doing so, this reduces installation costs and improves flexibility by removing redundant cabling.

There is no denying the window of opportunity PoE technology has created, however the need for power and data through a singular cable has caused additional infrastructure considerations. Utilising existing cable structures reduces installation time and money, however in order to do this the cable needs to be fit to accommodate the additional current being transmitted. This article will discuss the innovation surrounding PoE, as well as the considerations that should be made to ensure the right data cable is used for your specific PoE needs.

The uses

There are many industries that have successfully adopted the use of PoE, for example surveillance cameras, air conditioning systems, telephones and supermarket checkouts. PoE has improved efficiency and created opportunity however without the correct structured cabling infrastructure in place it can experience multiple issues such as overheating or connection issues affecting the integrity of the data for the end user.

The adoption of PoE within supermarkets has made it easier for them to install multiple self-service checkouts in one location. Enabling high volumes of data and power to be transmitted to and from the device over a singular ethernet cable.

Progression of standards

2002

The first PoE standards were introduced outlining the types of devices and applications compatible with power sourcing equipment (PSE) for category 3 cables and higher

2018

The IEEE 802.3bt was introduce to support devices which required higher power supply such as laptops, televisions and video conferencing, enabling power delivery over all four pairs

When considering which data cables are fit for your operations, there are some key cabling recommendations for PoE applications.  If a data cable is exposed to heat, the attenuation of the cable rises and can affect signal performance. For this reason, ISO and TIA standards define an operating temperature of no higher than 20°c. When power flows through your cables, the copper conductors will start to generate heat and in turn cause the data cable’s operating temperature to rise. This is a common occurrence when the cables are bundled together, which is often how they are installed but prevents heat from escaping and causing build up.

As PoE standards allow for higher power transmission, as resistance increases a rise in temperature can also been seen for the cable and its surrounding areas. As such this consideration has now become more of a conscious design feature required for data cables destined for implementation in complex infrastructures. The use of higher category cables, in itself, supports higher operating temperatures, as the cables are able to support higher levels of current flow, which minimises the risk of resistance and overheating. For this reason, many current infrastructures commonly utilise CAT 6A cable or higher.

Industrial integrity and performance

There has been an increased use of PoE cables within industrial environments. Factories and warehouses are also increasingly using smart technologies to streamline their business processes, facilitated by the implementation of integrated devices for optimised data transfer. The use of PoE within these devices reduces the number of cables and removes restrictions in terms of installation, location and more. However, these cables can be more significantly prone to damage.

As a direct consequence of the environments within which they are placed, cables can often fall, drop or risk being crushed. This in turn could compromise their ability to transfer data or transmit power. Damaged cables can cause machine outages which could have a huge financial implication on the organisation.

PoE cabling is used in a wide range of devices, and within industrial business environments for example:

  • Air-conditioning systems are automated, driven by IoT technologies, using PoE which allows greater flexibility at installation and remote-control enabling monitoring that reaches all areas of the building
  • Smart lighting systems, powered by PoE, which deliver multiple applications via one cabling system such as motion sensor technologies are proving to be far more efficient
  • Central control units, which link air-conditioning technology and other smart applications such as temperature control gauges, typically found within data centres are crucial to preventing the risk of overheating and associated failures. PoE technology allows for both power and temperature data to be transmitted over one cabling structure.
  • In process automation sensor technologies typically found in warehouse conveyer belt systems and similar applications which is often seen to be a new invention, PoE has enabled for both data and power to feed to and from the device for a seamlessly consistent, repeatable processes.

Preparing for next generation – high power PoE

In order to meet the demand for future PoE requirements high quality cable and connectivity is essential to maintaining continued performance and reliability. Cabling testing should be carried out to indicate performance parameters such as:

  •  Temperature control – to avoid overheating and data transfer failing
  •  Transmission testing – to ensure the cable meets the industry standards for signal performance
  •  Performance future proofing – to ensure the network is built to accommodate growth advancements, such as higher power requirements or further increases in the number of cables within a bundle

Today’s networks must be fast and reliable, with the flexibility to handle ever-increasing data demands. PoE technology can help expand your network possibilities enabling business flexibility by improving processes and staying competitive. PoE, however, is only effective when installed correctly and to the highest standard.

Third party testing and certification ensures data cables meet industry performance standards. Transmission cables holding the BASEC mark will have undergone rigorous laboratory product approvals to prove cable quality, allowing you to meet the need for higher data demand and power supply via one PoE cabling product.